EU unveils huge aid plan as virus hammers Latin America

29 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

BRUSSELS: The EU unveiled a 750-billion-euro recovery plan Wednesday to get the continent back on its feet after the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic, as Latin America outpaced Europe and the US in the number of daily infections.

The massive European plan follows other unprecedented emergency measures introduced around the world to rescue economies shattered by the disease, which has claimed more than 350,000 lives as infections top 5.6 million, reports AFP.

While the virus continues to unleash havoc in Latin America, Europe has slowly started reopening businesses as outbreaks on the continent slow, but Italy and Spain lack the firepower of richer European nations to rebuild their economies.

The European Union put forward a 750 billion euro ($825 billion) proposal to the European Parliament and member states on Wednesday, aiming to help the worst-affected countries with a mix of grants and loans.

"This is Europe's moment," EU Commission chief Ursula Von der Leyen said Wednesday, urging solidarity.

"We either all go it alone, leaving countries, regions and people behind... or we walk that road together," she said.

The proposed package is expected to kick off tough negotiations, as backers try to win the support of some northern EU states that oppose paying out aid in grants to nations already under mountains of debt.

The proposal comes as the continent -- which has lost at least 173,000 people to COVID-19 -- grapples with the human tragedy and economic destruction.

Spain on Wednesday began 10 days of official mourning for the more than 27,000 people who died in the country, with all flags on public buildings at half-mast.